Those who know me in person, or even the more observant readers, may have noticed a small, metaphorical, black dog hanging around my heels for several months. The good news is that I feel I’ve now turned a corner in my recovery and I’ve been feeling “normal” for about a month.
Now I’m in a place I can look back over the journey through this particular valley of shadow, I’ve noticed we all need to have more conversations about faith and mental health. This is a good article for a starting point.
Miriam’s post was the beginning of the turning point for me. Miriam wrote:
…do not be dismayed that you are downcast – because even those with the surest of promises wobble in the present from time to time.
Re-align your Hope and do not berate yourself. Being downcast by circumstance is not a sign you are a loser. You are in the company of King David and you dear one are loved just the same.
The thing is, if you’d asked me point blank about whether Christians can be depressed, I’d have said, of course, just like Christians can live with diabetes or any other illness. The Psalmist, Jeremiah, Elijah – all experienced depressive episodes in their ministry. But underneath that understanding there was a part of my subconscious that believed the lie, especially in the darkest moments, that what I was going through was a symptom of a lack of faith.
When the shadow did lift, there was nothing I was doing or believing or praying any differently than when I was in the middle of it. I’ve learned all I can do is Trust and Hope, knowing that the Father is carrying me through this season, and will bring me through it to the other side, even if that takes longer than I think it should.
Mine was only a small “black dog,” a number of dear friends are grappling with a larger, more persistent “black dogs.” I wish was as easy as “do this and you’ll get better,” but this does not appear to be reality. But you are still loved, still liked, still someone I care about and enjoy hanging out with.
As I continue to process what I’ve learned, I’ll come back and share a little more where I hope it will be an encouragement to anyone else out there going through this kind of stuff. In the meantime: have courage my friend, and remember you don’t walk alone.